Born and bred in the Manning, Scott Calvin is a talented professional photographer who has worked locally for the past 22 years. We caught up with Scott recently to find out a bit more about his background and experiences as a photographer in the beautiful Manning-Great Lakes region.
Hi Scott. Can you share with us a bit about your background, and how long have you been in the area?
I grew up in the Manning, went travelling and ended up in Perth, living there for about eight years. I then returned to Taree, and I have been back now for about 23 years. Since returning to the area, I have worked as a photographer in portrait studios, photographed weddings, many magazine shoots, and I have also worked as a photographer for the Manning River Times for the past 22 years.
Can you tell our readers about what led you to become interested in photography in the first place?
My friends all put in and bought me a camera for my 21st birthday, but at that stage I wasn’t very interested in it and actually put it straight into the cupboard!
It wasn’t until a year later, when I was getting ready to go on a seven month trip through Asia, Turkey and Nepal that I dug the camera out again. It became the best tool to record the journey and explain the experience in a visual way. The camera allowed me to show a country and the emotion of the experience. Through my photographs, I got to keep moments and show friends and family – which was really cool.
From that point on, I was obsessed! I went on to work for seven months on a tall ship in Queensland, and naturally took photos and the people around me wanted copies. I was also always sent out in the passenger dinghy to get shots of the beautiful tall ship in full sail. From then on, photography was how I lived.
Are there any truly defining moments that you’ve experienced in your career?
I think every day when you’re working with people within the community there are plenty of defining moments. It is the total enjoyment of the small, quirky experiences that I truly cherish.
If I were to narrow it down though, I guess that the top three amazing moments would be:
1. Going through town in front of the torch relay for the Sydney Olympic Games.
2. When a plane crashed into the ferris wheel at the Old Bar Festival, and no one was hurt.
3. When a big whale beached itself on Crowdy Beach.
Photography has changed radically since you started your photography journey – from using film and having it processed in a lab, right through to digital technology. How has digital photography impacted on what you do – and what’s possible to do – as a photographer?
I started photography using film with lots of developing black and white, colour negative and slide film. Wow, it has changed! I love digital and the amazing new world it has created. I can work with speed and create a work of art quickly and very accurately. It’s obviously still very complicated to get a really great shot if you don’t have a good understanding of the camera and photography theory. You may get a great shot, but you don’t know how much better that shot could have been if you had that knowledge. But by being able to see the result instantly with digital photography, it has definitely increased the quality of photography for everybody.
My new love is video, which I shoot on my normal digital SLR camera. Because I already understood the camera and the settings, I found it easy to get a good image, but I actually had to learn a whole new set of techniques to capture moving subjects with sound. And again … wow! What a powerful media. I’ve worked on music videos using these techniques, as well as short movies which are mainly developed to be seen on the Manning River Times Facebook page. You can manoeuvre this size camera to get really different perspectives, and the quality is great. I would call it more entertainment, but I think that is what our audience wants. My latest purchase is a drone, which is offering even more scope to be really creative with photography.
You also teach photography locally – can you tell us a bit more about what’s involved there?
I have been teaching photography for 30 years. I have taught photography to multimedia, fashion and art students at TAFE, and have created courses in the local community colleges. I am still teaching when I can, and it has been fantastic.
I took a number of students to New Zealand a few years ago and we went to the Weta Studios, getting to experience firsthand how big the movie industry was there. I realised the importance of new technologies like green screen, so from there, my teaching changed. We purchased a green screen and learned how to use it – which was a lot of fun.
I would say many schools are still teaching black and white film developing, but we need to teach students this new digital world, so that they can be prepared for this new type of industry. It is much more creative and exciting.
What would your advice be to anyone thinking about getting into photography professionally?
I have taught thousands of people how to take better photos, but out of all those people I can count about six who not only had the desire to be real professional photographers, but who also went on to build a career in the industry.
And with the news out there of the job losses in the industry, you could think the future is bleak, but I think it has just changed … and when you see the large number of people glued to their phone screens, I think many of them are watching something created by a photographer.
My theory is that with this increasing technology in media, the written word becomes less used and the spoken word will become more relevant. Ask a young person if they need to find out information, would they read a page of text, or would they watch a video showing and explaining what they needed to know? Most would opt for the video because, as the viewer, they can see the subject, hear that person tell the story and see vision of what the story is.
Fast internet streaming of video has completely changed the industry, but I think there has never been more opportunities out there, and the tools to create these have never been better. Photographers generally are people who pick up a camera and never put it down again.
Interview: Ingrid Bayer.